Acta Mechanica

, Volume 229, Issue 6, pp 2307–2325 | Cite as

Modal characterization and structural aerodynamic response of a crane fly forewing

  • Jose E. Rubio
  • Paul J. Schilling
  • Uttam K. Chakravarty
Original Paper


This study describes a method for investigating the modal characteristics and the structural aerodynamic response of the crane fly (family Tipulidae) forewing under different airflow conditions. A micro-computed tomography scan is conducted to characterize the internal and external morphologies of the insect wing. A finite element model of the crane fly forewing is developed to determine its natural frequencies and mode shapes. The FE model is validated by comparing the natural frequencies of a beam with similar mechanical properties and geometric characteristics of those from the veins of the crane fly forewing to its analytical solution from the Euler–Bernoulli beam theory. A numerical simulation of the fluid–structure interaction is conducted by coupling the finite element model of the crane fly forewing with a computational fluid dynamics model of the surrounding airflow. From this simulation, the deformation response and the coefficients of drag and lift of the insect wing are predicted for different Reynolds numbers and angles of attack. The mode shapes show regions of low stiffness at the trailing and leading edges of the wing. The deformation increases nonlinearly from the root to the tip of the wing, and the aerodynamic efficiency of the insect wing increases with angle of attack and freestream velocity, especially for high Reynolds numbers.

List of symbols


Deformation magnitude

\(V_\infty \)

Freestream velocity




Cartesian coordinate in the chordwise direction of the wing


Cartesian coordinate in the spanwise direction of the wing


Cartesian coordinate in the out-of-plane direction of the wing

\(\theta \)

Angle of attack


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This work was supported by the Louisiana Board of Regents’ support fund, contract number LEQSF(2013-16)-RD-A-17. The authors would like to thank Mr. William Miller Jr. for his collaboration during the micro-CT scanning of the crane fly forewing.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jose E. Rubio
    • 1
  • Paul J. Schilling
    • 1
  • Uttam K. Chakravarty
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringUniversity of New OrleansNew OrleansUSA

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